Classic rookie: John Garrett

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Ronnie Moore
John Garrett said he will be taking the advice of many veterans of the sport to relax and enjoy his time at the Classic.

UNION CITY, Tenn. — “The moon and the stars haven’t lined up yet.”

That’s what Johnny Garrett has told his grandson, John Garrett, every time the younger Garrett had a less-than-winning finish in a bass tournament.

But in August, the day before the final matchup in the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series Classic Bracket presented by Bass Pro Shops, Paws (the family name for Johnny Garrett) changed his tune a little bit.

“The moon and the stars are lining up,” said Paws.

And the next day, 20-year-old John Garrett won the single College Series berth in the 2017 GEICO Bassmaster Classic.

Paws is one of the many family members who has supported Garrett’s outdoor exploits, from competing in Junior Bassmasters a decade ago to joining the fishing team at Bethel University to, now, preparing for the Classic.

In fact, Garrett has found support in lots of places — not just his friends, family and Bethel teammates, but also among Classic veterans.

Matt Lee, Jordan Lee and Trevor Lo  recent Classic anglers who came from the College Series  have reached out to him.

“They all said to make sure I’m enjoying my time there,” said Garrett. “They said don’t worry about anything.”

It turns out to be similar advice to what some even more experienced pro anglers told him.

Kevin VanDam, Greg Hackney and Keith Combs — all pro staffers on the Strike King team that signed Garrett earlier this year — talked to him about the Classic during the Strike King Writers Conference in September.

“They told me to have a good time and enjoy it,” Garrett said. “Not many people get to go to the Classic. Have fun, don’t get stressed out and don’t worry about what everybody else says or does.”

Garrett said he plans to heed that advice.

“I’ll probably get worked up at blast-off, but I’ll go easy on myself after those first 15 minutes are done,” Garrett said.

He’s heading to Lake Conroe to pre-fish during his time off school, either during Christmas or in early January.

“I’m going to look at every inch — all the banks, brushpiles and shallow water,” Garrett said. When it comes time for the Classic, he said he hopes the bass are already done spawning.

“I don’t do a lot of bed fishing,” Garrett said. “I like fishing offshore. I hope they’ve moved out to midrange brushpiles by March.”

One of the people who will proudly be watching Garrett during the Classic is Paws.

“Paws taught me to fish,” said Garrett. “He’s taught me everything I know.”

Earlier this year, Paws retired from his lifetime career of working on boats and selling them at his own company, Union City Marine. He’s now sold his company, and the 69-year-old has the plan of a lifetime for 2017: He’s going to travel with his grandson to the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Opens presented by Bass Pro Shops. While Garrett fishes as a boater, Paws will be fishing as a co-angler. It’s something Paws has never gotten to do.

It seems like the moon and the stars finally all lined up.